The blogosphere LOVES posts that promise "5 steps for this," or "10 tips for that."
And it's not just youth ministry blogs. Business blogs, mommy blogs, heck, even podcasts are in on it. Everyone everywhere promises that if you follow these 3, or 5, or 7 steps, you'll achieve proficiency at whatever task they're referring to.
Want to know something funny? I've written quite a few of these myself! And if you search the ym360 Blog, you'll find a healthy number of them.
So what's my issue with these type of blog posts? Glad you asked . . .
When it comes to the practical side of youth ministry, these blog posts can be helpful. When this framework is applied to teaching a Bible study, or running a parent meeting, or planning a mission trip, or any other practical venture, it can help you better think about how to implement necessary aspects of youth ministry.
But, we have to be really careful when we try to apply this framework to spiritual development, or discipleship.
I have spent the better part of my adult life discipling teenagers and engaging with others who do the same. Those of you who have similar experience will agree: there is no 5 step or 7 step method to becoming a disciple. Spiritual growth isn't a linear progression. You don't start at Step 1 and progress seamlessly through Step 5, or 7, or 10 . . .
Discipleship is a messy, awesome, two steps forward three steps back, meandering journey with clear landmarks but no set road map.
While we're all headed in the same direction, the path we take is often different. Don't be fooled by anyone promising to make it simple, or predictable, or easy. Jesus certainly didn't. And neither should we. [And if you catch me doing it, send me a note to remind me to chill out :) ]